Mark 13:36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
There’s an old joke told about a Vatican priest rushing in to the Pope’s throne room in Rome and shouting, “ The Lord Jesus has returned to Earth! What will we do? What will we do?”
The Pope simply replies: “Look busy.”
I still laugh at that joke, but the older I get, I also understand the fundamental truth behind it. What if Jesus returned to Earth today, would we be ready or caught sleeping?
Because we live in a society where instant gratification and unhindered leisure are important to us, we may be caught off guard when Christ does return. We keep taking shallow short cuts with our faith and are constantly distracted from making a deeper connection to God via worship, meditation, prayer, and study. We want our theology to be thin and palatable; we want our Bibles to be read in short bytes and simple verses; and we want our worship to be convenient and passive, instead of challenging and passionate. In other words, we want a cozy, comfortable faith to soothe our spirits and anaesthetize our souls.
In John Bunyan’s amazing book, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress,’ the hero is called ‘Christian’ and he endures a harsh journey from the City of Destruction to the Gates of Heaven. Just before he reaches the end of the journey, he has to pass through a dangerous pathway where many fellow travelers are sleeping. They are sleeping because they have taken their faith for granted and will sadly never finish the journey, or enter into God’s Kingdom. Christian has to steel himself and summon all of his faith resources in order to overcome such a subtle temptation. Only by persevering faithfully, does Christian win the battle and get into Heaven. He is alert and awake for the Lord’s Return; he is heartily welcomed and cheerfully accepted into the Lord’s Domain.
Question for personal reflection
Am I ready for the Lord’s Return or am I guilty of falling asleep and taking Him for granted?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You could re-appear any day now and yet we live as though it won’t happen in our lifetime. Forgive us for disregarding the teaching of the scriptures and the challenges of the Gospel. Keep us alert and ready, as well as eagerly awaiting Your Promised Return. In Your Holy Name, we expectantly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is John’s latest lectionary drawing called “Water and Spirit.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8005/7259851996_ad06a17b9f_h.jpg